Mengo Hospital, one of the biggest private hospitals in Kampala has taken the drastic decision to cut the salaries of almost all its employees.
In a May 22 letter to staff, the Medical Director of the hospital Dr. Rose Mutumba said that the management of the hospital decided to take the painful measure in order to keep the hospital in business following the reduction in patient numbers due to the ongoing COVID-19 lock down.
The Director’s Letter indicates that cuts will range between 0 and 20% depending on Gross Salary range and will affect salaries for the months of May, June and July 2020.
Mengo’s decision is not an isolated incident as several health facilities have reported very low patient numbers, a situation some have attributed to the shutdown of the entertainment industry.
With night clubs and many public places closed, reports show that accidents, complications and infections had gone down.
However Mengo’s decision comes at a time when the country is beginning to get out of lockdown that had kept many potential clients unable to access hospitals due to transport limitations.
With the relaxation on the movement of private vehicles coming into force today, many people are expected to use the easing as an opportunity to rush to hospitals after months of being unable to move.
Although the possibility of increased patient numbers is likely to increase with greater relaxations, doctors and nurses will privately be nursing grievances of salary cuts.
Although Mengo hospital has sought consent from each one of its employees before it can effect the change, management could perhaps have learned a lesson from economics that Prices are sticky downwards. This refers to the profit maximisation tendency by business owners to not reduce prices of goods and services even when conditions demand so.
And although patient numbers may not return to their pre-COVID level soon in most healthcare facilities, due to other prevailing movement restrictions as well as diminished incomes, when it comes to personal income, it’s perhaps just natural to feel a sense of loss when a salary is cut.
Healthcare being a unique service that greatly depends on empathy and attitude of the service provider, is at a critical juncture and careful reflection.
While a certain media house employee may have found it easier to take her own life when her company cut her salary by half, an unhappy health worker’s decision could be fatal for her patients. Who knows.